Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Downhill Stretch

Here's some highlights from the time after spring break to the end of school.  Summer and Jesus were the only things keeping me going through the constant tests, homework, and stress of never having enough time to accomplish anything!
Some mornings when I get to school, Mom would text me a picture of a comic she thinks is funny.  I loved this one, so I cut it out to keep!  I run track, so I know all about improving splits, and ice cream is my thing.  Put them together, and well, there's not much more to me.
I found this picture on Picky Bars' instagram page, conveniently just days after racing in the pouring rain at Hardin Valley.  This is something I need to remember:  I hate the weather, but everyone else there has to race in it, too! 
Heading into the park before practice one Wednesday, Vanessa, a local runner and elementary teacher was in front of me, and I had to take a picture of her license plate!
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."  Proverbs 17:17
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24
Although there really was no time for me to do this, I always feel better after doing something "spiritual" for lack of better terms, so I made some decorative verses for some friends who I felt, like me, may be struggling to make it to the end of the school year.
Ain't he photogenic?
This came to my mind as I listened to the KLove Morning Show one morning on my way to church.  Things don't go wrong to torture us; things go the way God has planned to glorify Him.
This one came to me as I was reading my devotion that same Sunday morning.
Jesus didn't unfortunately experience the most terrible death; this was the plan for our salvation.
I don't remember what made me think of this one, but I was laying in bed.  Lots of good thoughts come to me there.
This is my life-long best friend/almost family who is a senior this year, Erika, before a chilly track meet at school
I was very tired and weary, in need of restoring and refreshment!  This verse coming up was an encouragement to my day.
Here's me and one of the top high school runners in the state, and even up there in the country, Wesley Pectol.  He's also the one that girls go crazy over at track and cross country meets.  At this meet at Tennessee High in Bristol, we were awarded the most outstanding runner male and female.  I won 2 events, the 1600 and 3200, while Wesley won 3, the 800, 1600, and 3200, while also running the anchor leg in the 4x400 right after the 3200.  Talk about endurance on a hot day!  It's great to see and get to know runners from right here in East Tennessee be so successful.
Although Greeneville is a "small" school in the A-AA division, Wesley won 3 events at the state meet last week and received a golden ticket to the dream mile.
This is an old picture from several years ago's Easter, but what beautiful verses to remember during the holiday celebrating the best thing to ever happen to the world.
I got invited to the family birthday party of one of my friends who lives in a nearby neighborhood, Abby!  Her dad was my elementary and travel basketball coach, and we got to be best friends, along with our entire families.  Her younger brother was actually my first real boyfriend in 4th/5th grade, and he is still one of my best friends because he's just such a sweetheart and good guy!  I am so thankful to have this family here treating us like their own family, too.  She has also come to the beach with me twice!
The far right is Ericka, who I used to go to church with.
Abby, me, and Noah
I want a man who runs, is not afraid to talk to me, and loves the Lord most of all!  My friend posted this quote on instagram, then I went online and searched for it.
I got to try something totally new on April 18th, and I fell in love.  This was a 2-day meet in Johnson City at Science Hill High School that is called the Tri-Cities Track Classic.  They have an amazing stadium there!  I had heard of people running the steeplechase, but really had no idea what it was.  We don't have many opportunities to race it around here like in other parts of the country, but this was one meet we went to that offered it.  My coach asked me one day earlier in the week if I would like to try it, so of course I said yes.  Never in my life have I jumped a hurdle or even watched other people in a steeplechase race.  Many adults were worried that I would hurt myself.  I was just out there to try it and have fun, so I just kept telling them that I would be fine.  We showed up on Friday night, having no clue what to do because I was the only member of my team who was already there.  The steeplechase was the first event, starting at 5:20.  I talked to the Science Hill coach because I figured she would know what I needed to do since their school was hosting the meet, then went on my warmup.  There were some of the barriers in the field inside the track that we could practice on before things got started.  I stood around and watched other people jump it for a little bit, while I tried to figure out how I was going to get over that thing.  I awkwardly tried a few ideas and couldn't help but laugh at myself because I knew I had to look silly.  After all, the thing is about half my height.  Luckily there was a girl from nearby Greeneville that I knew, so I had someone to talk to and tell me a little bit about it before the race started.  I didn't even know that there was 5 barriers on each lap for 5 laps, as this was a 2000m race.  We got in just a bit more "practice" as we waited behind the start line, but I still had no idea what I was getting into.  My mom refused to watch the first few laps and never even watched me go into the water until we watched the video online late that night.  They did a great job of posting results on Tennessee Runner for this meet.  Watch the video if you would like.  It's quite humorous in my opinion.  Starting out, I took off in front, not that I knew what I was doing.  Mom and Dad said they kept laughing at me, saying, "What is she doing in front?  She doesn't know what she's doing, she should just follow somebody whose done this before!"  That is not how I work.  I was there for a race, not a game of follow the leader!  Funnier still, for the first lap or so, on the running, I would get a big lead, but get passed as we jumped over the barriers.  It took me about 2 laps before I figured out how to jump it more efficiently.  I have always been the type of kid to climb fences and trees and play in the water, so this was just a more "sophisticated/organized" form of that for me.  I had so much fun!  I wish I had the opportunity to do it again, because with practice and experience, I could do so much better!  We were all astonished as I finished in 7:28, destroying the school, meet, and current state record (for this season).  It even qualified me for the USATF Junior Olympics, although I am not going.  Imagine what I could do if I actually trained for it!  Everyone got the biggest kick out of watching me race that, and I really enjoyed it, too.  That night and over the next few days, I kept getting asked, "How did you do that last night?" "What do you do to train for a steeplechase like that?" and I just had to laugh and tell them, "I had never done that before.  I'd never practiced; my coach asked if I wanted to try it, so I showed up!" and they were amazed.  I feel so blessed to hear people tell me at almost every meet how much they enjoy watching me run.  I just can't explain the joy that gives me in knowing that I have such a platform to share God's love with the world.  I pray that I use these opportunities to do so every chance I get.
I am also in the 2 mile for that night, blessed to set a PR for that point in the season.  The man who was lining us up at the start line looked shocked when he saw me and asked if I was back to race again after winning the steeplechase earlier.  I replied "Yeah, I am!" with a big smile on my face, never feeling better.  It is an indescribable feeling when God just lifts you beyond what you know you can do and help you feel so good.  This was one of my most memorable nights all season.  Only one coach showed up and a few teammates who raced events later that night, but we had a great night.  The next day was the majority of the events, so we all went down for that.  I ran the 1 mile the next day, too, but it was a few seconds off my PR.  After a night off my legs after those races, I was feeling it the next day!  My left calf took all the pain from the steeplechase, always jumping off of and landing on that same leg, so my calf was about to snap for almost two weeks.  Luckily, soreness is okay!  Building muscle...
I felt amazingly blessed to have felt so fresh and able to run like that!  You may never know what you are capable of until God gives you the opportunity and the strength to take advantage of it.
I used to really dislike coconut shavings, flavor, and stuff like that, but now, I am in love!  TCBY has also been stepping up its game lately, partnering with brands like Silk and Mrs. Fields to get new, tasty flavors.  My new favorite that I pick up almost every time it is on the calendar at Morristown's store is Silk Coconut.  I love to mix things in with my yogurt, too, so with this I add Light & Fit Greek Toasted Coconut Vanilla yogurt, Luna chocolate dipped coconut protein bar, dark chocolate and coconut Newtons Fruit Thins (another new thing I have tried and loved), chocolate Fiber One squares, and a dollop or two of cool whip.
This verse came up on a day close to the end of school.  I did not yet have many things that I was hoping and waiting for, but I am not a very patient person.  AP tests, Algebra II final exam, Spanish II final exam, final grades, the trip to Murfreesboro, the state meet, sunshine, relaxing, sleep, knowing the outcome of the races, just wanting so much uncertainty to be behind me--all these things were wearing me thinner than thin!
However, God leaves us with things unknown in life so that we cling to Him.  Although it is wonderful to have times of rest here on earth, there is no R&R that will ever compare to what we will experience in heaven.  Each day is a step in our journey to eternity, so we should embrace it.  Waiting patiently for things that we have no idea when or how they may happen is difficult, but all we really have to do is rest in Christ's embrace, trust in His plan, and use every opportunity He gives us to serve Him in some way.  By focusing on things other than ourselves, life becomes so much better before we even realize it.  
Easter afternoon, I had had a tough previous day and was in need of a big fuel boost, so I came inside from the trampoline and whipped up some pancakes.   That Reece's Pieces carrot was part of my Easter gift from Mom and Dad, so I added them to the batter, spread Bee's Knees and honey on top, and sliced a banana on there, too.  I really wish I could have a life-time job of hosting cross country camps and coordinating activities and meals for people.  I'll have to look into that.